Screening of Lead in consumer products Recently, there have been a number of recalls of toys and other consumer products in the USA because their lead content exceeded the regulatory maximum level. The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released a CPSC Staff Study Report on the evaluation of lead test kits on 22 October 2007. This report concluded that some lead test kits sold to consumers for use in detecting the presence of lead may not be reliable. Both false negatives and false positives were produced by these test kits. CPSC accordingly do not recommend the use of consumer lead test kits. In the report, however, it also mentions that, in a limited study (2007), X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) correctly identified the presence or absence of lead for 12 out of 13 samples, with one false negative for a sample of metal jewelry with nickel and copper plating. The report concludes that professional application of XRF technologies may be a useful way to screen for the presence or absence of lead in products, particularly for surface level lead. XRF detectors have limited depth of penetration so, for certain applications, such as children’s metal jewelry, it is possible for the surface coating to mask the presence of potentially hazardous leaded base metal underneath, resulting in a false negative test. The CPSC staff believes that laboratory analysis remains the only accurate and reliable way to detect and quantify lead in products and assess any possible risk posed by use of these products. It further points out that testing by a qualified laboratory and trained personnel is the only way to accurately assess the potential risk posed by a consumer product that may contain lead. The full report is obtainable from the following website: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtm108/08038.html In Hong Kong, there are a number of laboratories which are equipped with XRF. Interested persons may need to contact them to enquire whether they could provide the screening test for lead using this technique. Currently, no laboratories are accredited by HKAS to perform this test. HKAS strongly encourages laboratories wishing to provide this testing service to seek accreditation. HKAS has accredited a number of laboratories for analysis of lead content in toys and children’s products and other consumer products. Persons requiring this laboratory service can access a directory of laboratories accredited for this test obtainable from http://www.itc.gov.hk/en/quality/hkas/doc/Laboratories accredited by HKAS for analysis of Lead content.doc. The specific tests accredited are listed either under the Toys and Children’s Products or the Chemical Testing test categories. Laboratories accredited for this test have been assessed by an assessment team and their competence to perform the accredited tests has been demonstrated to be complying with international standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005. Their testing methods have also been validated and assessed by a team of technical experts.
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